‘Micro-cheating’ and declining monogamy: Dating trends for 2020

It’s been a full decade and dating has come a long way.

From meeting people in person to swiping for a casual hook-up, experts say dating will continue to change in 2020.

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Laura Bilotta, host of The Dating and Relationship Show on Global News Radio 640 Toronto, says meeting people online isn’t going away anytime soon.

“Online dating apps will continue to grow popularity, and this will be how many people find their partners,” she said.

Below, experts in relationships, online dating and sex break down some of the biggest trends for 2020.

More honesty up-front (we can hope)

Online apps aren’t going away anytime soon, says Bilotta, and next year, she hopes daters will be more up-front about what they want.

“2020 will be similar to last year with more and more people being drawn to dating apps,” she said.

“The only difference is, people will know what to look for, how to tell if someone is not being real, and when to end a conversation.”

In 2020, she says, people will be more honest with themselves and with their potential partner about wants and needs, rather than wasting time trying to impress a person.

Ghosting will evolve

Unfortunately, ghosting won’t go away. In fact, some experts say it will evolve.

Bilotta says ghosting will no longer cause people to wonder what they did wrong ⁠— it may actually hurt less.

“In 2020, people won’t wonder if they get ghosted,” Bilotta said. “They will come to the realization very quickly that it wasn’t meant to be.”

She sees a decline in “curving” overall, where people lead you on and never admit to a relationship.

Sexual health educator and relationship expert Samantha Bitty, meanwhile, tells Global News that since ghosting has become a dating norm, “gas lanterning” will be the new norm.

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“[This is] when someone sends the last text, however it is clearly not meant to elicit a response or move the conversation/relationship forward,” she said. “The liminal space between ghosting and gaslighting.”

She says with the backlash against ghosting, gas laterning is considered an “evolutionary move.”

“You can’t be accused of ghosting if you sent the last text,” she said.

Matchmaker Carmelia Ray adds aspects of ghosting will still exist, and sometimes they can be even more hurtful. She calls it “glamboozled.”

“When someone gets super excited and all glammed up in preparation for a date, only for the date to be cancelled super last minute, this is truly deflating,” she explained.

More conversation around consent

With so much information and conversation starters around consent available online, experts like Bitty believe the increase in public discourse around rape culture has more people talking about consent culture.

“Easily-sharable content, like memes, are disseminating practical language for negotiating safer sex and consent,” she said.

“The broader availability of medications like PreP and STI self-testing normalize safer-sex methods, and ideally conversations.”

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She adds increasing popularity of dating apps like Feeld, where the culture of the app is to disclose upfront interests/types of sexual relationships people are pursuing, is encouraging people to build community around communication.

“Enthusiastic consent is being considered more sexy and desirable.”

Type-casting will increase

Some people are very particular in how they date. When it comes to finding a potential partner, licensed marriage and family therapist Kiaundra Jackson, says some people date based on personality type, zodiac sign or love language.

She calls this type-casting.

“As the dating scene changes, many people are starting to place people in a category, which determines if they are a potential suitable mate or not,” she said.

“If that person does not align with the perceived notion of whom you think they should be for your life, they are then kicked to the curb.”

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Meredith Gillies, marketing manager at Bumble Canada, says zodiac signs in particular are the most popular filter on the dating app.

“This feature allows our community to search for matches based on their star sign, and we are expecting this trend to continue throughout 2020,” Gillies said.

“Even if you’re not big into astrology, it provides a playful icebreaker.”

More people are micro-cheating

Considered a grey area of cheating, “micro-cheating” includes everything from constantly looking at your ex’s Facebook page to contacting past flames via text.

Jackson says micro-cheating is the little sister of emotional cheating.

“It is when small opportunities for affectionate behaviours that fall outside your relationship [arise], which can lead to mistrust and infidelity in the future,” she said, adding this can also include dressing differently when you know you’re going to be seeing a certain person or lying by omission.

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Previously speaking with Global News, relationship expert Brianne Hogan of Charlottetown, P.E.I. said micro-cheating for some can be considered playful or flirting and others don’t even know when it crosses the line into cheating.

“Sometimes it doesn’t mean anything,” Hogan said. “But it gets tricky when it comes down to the intention behind it.”

Goodbye monogamy?

Jackson also believes monogamy will decrease in 2020.

In a world of social media, there are more blurred lines and definitions of cheating and emotional cheating, she says millennials have changed the face of relationships indefinitely.

“Whom we date, how we date and when we date have shifted from previous generations,” she said.

“The discussion and awareness of different types of relationships (poly, open, etc.) was trending in 2019 and will continue to do so in 2020.”

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With cheating and divorce on the rise, she explains, it is understandable why people are looking for relationships that fall outside the monogamy box.

In some urban centres, Bitty says, increased costs of housing and living in general will encourage people to continue cohabitation when there is outside sexual interest involved.

“Partners in scenarios who may have previously taken it as a cue to end the partnership, will potentially be motivated to pursue peaceful/loving/amicable/respectful alternatives.”

Dating becomes a ‘buffet’

The interest in online dating and meeting people won’t go away in 2020, Ray says. In fact, more companies will start coming up with new ways to get people to meet each other.

Beyond just using apps, these can include in-person events.

“At the beginning of the year, singles will be on high alert and extremely motivated to find a partner all the way up to Valentine’s Day, where there will be a noticeable dip in interest and motivation if they haven’t found anyone by then,” she said.

Online dating will move to video

Ray says video dating will also become more popular in 2020. While some apps have already introduced this option on their platforms, video integration from dating coaches and matchmakers will also be popular.

“Singles are getting tired of swiping and ready to meet someone compatible sooner than later,” she said.

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Gillies says research at Bumble Canada forecasts more people turning to video chat for their first dates vs. meeting in person.

The app launched a video chat option in 2019, urging people to meet online before meeting in person.

“It can be difficult to read between the lines over text, or know for sure if it’s time to meet IRL, and this gives matches an opportunity to decide if they’re ready to take the relationship offline,” she said.

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